Best Australian Banks for Expats: Compare to Find the Best Option

Finding the right bank account is crucial when moving to Australia, especially for expats and non-residents. Understanding the requirements and timing for opening an Australian bank account can help avoid high fees associated with using a foreign card for daily expenses. Explore the best banks for immigrants and temporary residents in Australia.

Sorting through the various banking options geared at newcomers to the country can be a challenge. The choices aren’t limitless, but they include the major players—the ‘Big Five’ banks—that dominate the market and offer a wide range of services.

Let’s dive into what each banking option brings to the table for expats.

Best Australian Banks for Expats and Non-Residents in 2024

Bank/Fintech Expat Friendly Full Banking Multi-Currency Account Documents Required Geared For
Commonwealth Bank No Yes No Passport, visa General Banking
Westpac No Yes No Passport, additional ID General Banking
NAB No Yes No Passport or driver’s license General Banking
ANZ No Yes Yes Passport, proof of address General Banking, Expats
Macquarie Bank Yes Yes Yes Passport or driver’s license Digital Banking, Expats
HSBC Expat Yes Yes Yes Passport, proof of residential address Expats, Multi-Currency Needs
Wise Yes No Yes Government-issued ID Expats, Multi-Currency Needs
Revolut Yes No Yes Government-issued ID Expats, Digital Nomads
ME Bank Yes Yes No Australian ID or passport for expats General Banking, Expats
Up Bank Yes No No Government-issued ID Expats, Digital Nomads
Airwallex Yes No Yes Varies by account type Business, Expats
Zeller Yes No No Business documents, ID Small Business Owners
mx51 No No No Business documents, ID E-commerce, Business
Paytron Yes No Yes Business documents, ID Business, Expats
Athena Mortgage No No No ID, proof of income Property Buyers, Expats

These are the main options, essentially, also allowing temporary banking solutions for new immigrants in Australia. While the country does not have a particularly high access to Fintech (solutions like Wise and Revolut are readily available on a global level), we can see a lot more banks than the usual offering bespoke expat solution including for those who have yet to set foot in Australia. This is quite surprising and shows how big of an expat immigration is for Australia’s economy. In Canada for instance, there are a lot fewer options geared at this particular situation and even in the great U.S there aren’t many solutions for yet-to-be residents.

Top 6 Bank Accounts for Expats in Australia

If I was considering a bank account in Australia I’d normally stick into having a bank account with an established/big bank where I would hold most of my money in. I would probably opt for a foreign currency account with a Fintech to use for international money transfers, but savings and investing are in my book a big bank must have.

Hence, the best 6 bank accounts for expats in Australia are consisting of 5 large Australian banks and one large international/British bank (its Jersey entity in this case, but still a large bank).

Rank Bank Name Account Requirements Process to Open Key Features ⭐
#1 Commonwealth Bank Passport, visa Online up to three months before/after arrival Migrant Financial Services, no monthly fees for the first year for newcomers
#2 Westpac Passport, additional ID (e.g., driver’s license, Medicare) Online initiation, finalize in branch No monthly fees for first 12 months, dedicated migrant services
#3 NAB Passport or driver’s license Online application, in-person branch visit required for full activation No minimum deposit, no monthly fees, flexible online and mobile banking
#4 ANZ Passport, proof of address Online application start, in-branch completion required Offers foreign currency accounts, comprehensive online services
#5 Macquarie Bank Passport or driver’s license for ID verification Fully digital process, can be completed quickly online No monthly fees, free international transactions, highly rated mobile app
#6 HSBC Expat Passport, proof of residential address, may need to meet financial criteria (certain amount of money in account or min. salary) Can open before moving, even without a fixed relocation date Multi-currency accounts, fee-free global transfers, relationship manager, tailored for future expatriates

Account Opening Requirements

For expats, one of the most significant questions at any time is what is the eligibility criteria, both in terms of net worth, income, salary or otherwise what kind of documents you need to present. Some might require proof of residency, while others might not. Some may require to see your visa while for others you don’t need to show it.

For example, Westpac, NAB, and ANZ will not allow you to fully activate your account until you are physically in Australia, which is crucial to plan for.

Our comparison spells out these details, helping you pinpoint which bank might best fit your arrival schedule and financial situation.

Bank/Fintech Minimum Requirements
HSBC Expat £25,000 (~50,000 AUD) in savings or investments
Airwallex Business ownership, no specified minimum deposit
Zeller Business ownership, no specified minimum deposit
Paytron Business ownership, no specified minimum deposit
mx51 Business ownership, integrates with existing systems
Commonwealth Bank No minimum deposit, but must verify ID and address in Australia
Westpac Must be in Australia to complete account setup
NAB Must be in Australia to finalize account setup
ANZ No minimum deposit, can open up to 12 months before arrival
Macquarie Bank No minimum deposit, account can be opened online anytime
Wise No minimum deposit, account can be opened online anytime
Revolut No minimum deposit, account can be opened online anytime
ME Bank No minimum deposit, account can be opened online anytime
Up Bank No minimum deposit, account can be opened online anytime
Athena Mortgage Must qualify for a mortgage, typically requires proof of income

Deep-Dive: Compare Banking Details and Functions

This section gives you a closer look at the various accounts, digital capabilities, and unique services each bank and fintech offers, in the context of expats, of course. Traditional banks like Commonwealth and ANZ provide full-service options from checking to multi-currency accounts, whereas fintechs like Wise and Revolut excel in multi-currency and digital banking solutions—perfect for expats who need to manage money across borders.This thorough comparison ensures you know exactly which services each bank offers, helping you find the perfect fit for your financial needs.

Bank/Fintech Account Types Digital Features Expat Features Special Services
Commonwealth Bank Checking, Savings Mobile app, Online banking Migrant banking services Investment, insurance
Westpac Checking, Savings, Business Mobile app, Online banking Migrant banking services Home loans, wealth management
NAB Checking, Savings, Business Mobile app, Online banking Specialized accounts for expats Business financing, financial advisory
ANZ Checking, Savings, Multi-currency Mobile app, Online banking Foreign currency accounts Insurance, investment solutions
Macquarie Bank Checking, Savings, Multi-currency Mobile app, Online banking Digital account opening Investment management, corporate banking
HSBC Expat Multi-currency, Savings International banking, Mobile app Expat specific services Global transfers, wealth management
Wise Multi-currency account Mobile app, Online transfers Cheap international transfers Currency conversion, debit card
Revolut Multi-currency, Cryptocurrency Budgeting, Savings tools, Mobile app Instant spending notifications Stock trading, crypto investments
ME Bank Checking, Savings Mobile app Online account management Home loans, personal loans
Up Bank Checking, Savings Mobile app, Spending tracking No international fees Savings tools, automated budgeting
Airwallex Business accounts, Multi-currency Business payments, Mobile app Cross-border transactions Currency conversion, API for businesses
Zeller Business accounts Business debit card, Mobile app Merchant services Point of sale, financial dashboard
mx51 Merchant services Payment gateway integration E-commerce solutions, POS systems
Paytron Business accounts Automated invoicing, Mobile app Multi-currency payments Vendor payments, expense management
Athena Mortgage Home loans Online application process Loan features for expats Mortgage refinancing, loan calculator

Multi-Currency Account Solutions for Expats

For expatriates managing finances across borders, choosing the right multi-currency account is vital. These accounts offer the flexibility to hold, manage, and exchange money in various currencies without hefty fees. Below, we compare the top Australian banks and fintech solutions that provide robust multi-currency account options, tailored for the unique needs of expats living in Australia.

Bank/Fintech Multi-Currency Account Key Features
ANZ Yes Offers foreign currency accounts, comprehensive online services
Macquarie Bank Yes No monthly fees, free international transactions, highly rated mobile app
HSBC Expat Yes Multi-currency accounts, fee-free global transfers, relationship manager
Wise Yes Cheap international transfers, currency conversion, debit card
Revolut Yes Budgeting, savings tools, no currency conversion fees up to a limit
Airwallex Yes Business accounts, multi-currency, currency conversion, API for businesses

Expat Banking Fees in Australia

Understanding the fee structure of bank accounts is crucial for expats to manage their finances efficiently in Australia. Below is a detailed overview of various fees associated with the main banks and fintech services catering to expatriates.

Bank/Fintech Maintenance Fees ATM Fees Transaction Fees International Fees
Commonwealth Bank Varies by account type Free at CBA ATMs Free electronic transactions International transaction fees apply
Westpac Monthly fees may apply Free at Westpac ATMs Free electronic transactions International transaction fees apply
NAB No monthly fees on basic account Free at NAB ATMs Free electronic transactions International transaction fees apply
ANZ Monthly fees may apply Free at ANZ ATMs Free electronic transactions International transaction fees apply
Macquarie Bank No account keeping fees Free at Macquarie ATMs Free electronic transactions No international transaction fees
HSBC Expat No monthly account fees Fees may apply at non-HSBC ATMs Free electronic transactions No international transaction fees
Wise No maintenance fees Uses third-party ATMs, fees may apply Low-cost currency conversion fees Low currency conversion fees
Revolut No maintenance fees Free ATM withdrawals up to a limit, then fees No domestic transaction fees No currency conversion fees up to a limit, then fees
ME Bank No monthly fees Free at network ATMs Free electronic transactions International transaction fees apply
Up Bank No monthly fees Free at network ATMs Free electronic transactions No international fees on card transactions
Airwallex No account fees for basic services N/A (business accounts) Free electronic transactions for business Currency conversion fees may apply
Zeller No account fees Free at Zeller ATMs Free electronic transactions N/A (primarily business accounts)
mx51 No direct fees listed N/A (payment services) Fee structure not specified N/A (payment services)
Paytron No account fees N/A (business services) Fee structure not specified Currency conversion fees may apply
Athena Mortgage No account fees N/A (mortgage services) N/A (mortgage services) N/A (mortgage services)

Concluding Thoughts

Selecting the best banking solution as an expat in Australia involves more than just reviewing a list of services and fees. For comprehensive banking services with minimal fees on international transactions, consider HSBC Expat and Macquarie Bank, which cater specifically to global needs without the extra charges.

Simplifying your choices

What are your banking needs?

General Banking
Multi-Currency Account
Digital Banking
Business Banking

What is your residency status?

Expats
Non-Residents

What type of account are you looking for?

Personal
Business

How quickly do you need to set up your account?

Quickly (within a few days)
No Rush

For those who need to set up their financial base before landing, ANZ allows you to open an account up to 12 months in advance.

Use this guide to navigate your banking options as a non-resident in Australia effectively. Choosing the right bank will ease your transition and ensure you enjoy low fees and comprehensive services. Start your new life in Australia with the best bank for your needs.